Collaboration is crackling in the air.  Ben, Pia and I attended a conference in Seattle that called on attendees to imagine a national infrastructure for improving civic discourse.  More simply, how can we improve the ways in which we get more diverse voices together to talk about things that matter in a constructive and productive manner? 

After all, changes need to happen and we're struggling to get them going at a scale of meaningful impact.

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One realization rose to the surface in virtually every conversation regarding collaboration—relationships matter!  Erik Liu, a main welcome speaker for the NCDD conference, concluded by speaking of the need for an "infrastructure of the heart."  Leaders of currently successful multi-organizational collaborations shared, the most important thing they've learned to date is that quality of relationship is the key to coming together.

"All relationships are founded on One, the one with your Self" has been the tagline for my transformation work for many years.  The quality of the inner relationship we have with our own self dictates the quality of all our outer relationships, at every scale.  If you want to accelerate your collaborative effectiveness, look at your personal foundation—your relationship with your self. 

Imagine a collaborative venture with followers of Groucho Marx (no, not Karl), the guy who wouldn't belong to club that would have him as a member.  Sadly, we may have had an experience or two trying to collaborate with folks that are combative, argumentative, dictatorial or simply unhappy with anything proposed as a way to move forward.  That hypothetical person is a classic example of someone who neither likes, accepts nor trusts themselves.  Their inner foundation is shaky, at best—and it shakes everyone around them.  On the other side of that experience, the more grounded we are in accepting ourselves, the more clarity and ability we'll have to navigate those experiences with compassion and creativity.  We can count on these challenges to arise wherever we go.  We won't need to retaliate with control, so long as we strengthen our inner foundation through awareness, acceptance, compassion and clarity of purpose with ourselves.

We'll explore strengthening our personal foundations for collaboration this week along with how we might better support each other.  Trust and acceptance within, builds trust and acceptance without.

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I think, barely keeping up, that we are all here to collaborate on the way out of global confusion...:-)

I am sensing that my real job here is to see your beauty, and acknowledge your gifts, Bradfield.

So, how will I see your beauty and your gifts when I speak of these things?   On second thought I won't ask that.  I'll just do as you ask and allow things to happen as they will. 

And since these terms don't come up naturally on every topic I'll treat this as though am conditioned against these gender issues.  And I'll need to be actively watching for my biases of omission. 

Am I getting the picture?

I'll do it!

According to some women's studies texts, the unprecedented aggression of the society's civilian women caused a belligerent uprising, involving the use of man's naturally greater physical strength; this rebellion marked the initiation of the society's current patriarchy.

For collaboration to happen surely, being honest and authentic is my bedrock. All else is interference or blockage.

How can I offer my truth when its part lie or cover?  How can I be credible when I don't value and respect others?  Yet, I have discovered in myself hidden prejudice that colored my views of people. 

Years ago I cried in front of a customer, ashamed of my conflicted feelings when I discovered the strikingly beautiful piece sculpture in the back yard was made by one of their very fat daughters.  I had not thought fat people capable of producing such beauty. 

And just last year I looked inward for why I was so surprised that an article that I thought was brilliant... was written by a Mexican man.  I found my ugliness of not thinking the Mexican capable.

Both of these instances demonstrate that even as I think of myself as open, fair and without bias I am absolutely not immune of prejudice.  Neither story actually involved gender though one was a man and the other a woman.  But, having quite a lot of experience in 'mens work' I realize the likelihood that there is rampant hidden and open gender bias in our society... and it is mostly unintentional conditioning. 

Certainly there was a time in my life I would not take orders from a woman because it seemed to threaten my manhood.  Most or all of that's gone in me, I hope.  Having an image to protect is not isolated to men and comes in all shapes and sizes.  How can there be genuine collaboration when having an image and such hidden bias prevails? 

Thanks to Bradfield's persistence I'm reminded of my need to be open to the fact that I'm prone to prejudice and must watch for it especially hidden in my little acts or comments. Of particular importance is self awareness of masked bias toward women because men have been 'in power' and have set, & are setting so many of the rules in the world.

What a wonderful exchange!  We discussed this on our Connect2012 call yesterday, where Dyck related how letting go of his reactivity and allowing himself to go with the assumption that he has something to learn from you, C.A., led to the post above, which he described as a revelation. He writes:

Thanks to Bradfield's persistence I'm reminded of my need to be open to the fact that I'm prone to prejudice and must watch for it especially hidden in my little acts or comments. Of particular importance is self awareness of masked bias toward women because men have been 'in power' and have set, & are setting so many of the rules in the world.

Meanwhile, I am deeply moved by the stories you tell, Dyck, of encountering your own prejudice in the instances of the sculpture by an obese girl and the article by a Mexican man. When I read posts displaying vulnerability, I feel very gratified that the work we have put into creating this conversation space has been valuable, both for its own sake and for what it demonstrates is possible going forward.

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